Encryption is a wonderful tool that can be used to keep your personal information secure online and in other locations. It was originally designed to protect highly sensitive documents but it has since then become an essential weapon in your digital security armoury.
If you use Windows 10 then you have likely noticed that your device already comes with strong encryption enabled. Unfortunately, many people shy away from these settings and assume that they are only there to stop police or other government officials from accessing their data. In reality, the settings are much more convenient for everyday users and can even provide added benefits such as faster boot times and less errors when installing or updating applications.
In this guide, you will discover the easiest way to get started using encryption on your Windows 10-powered device. Just follow the easy steps and enable the feature on your own PC. Most importantly, make sure you back up your important documents and files regularly so that you can restore them if needed. This way, you will be sure that your data remains secure at all times.
Turn On File Encryption In Windows 10
The first step towards using encryption effectively is to make sure that it is enabled on your computer. To do this, simply navigate to the Start menu and select Computer. Then, under the Settings heading, you will see a series of buttons. Click on the button indicated as Encrypting Files and Folders, as shown in the image below.
This will bring up a series of options. Make sure that the option labeled Hard Drive Encryption is selected and then click on the OK button to confirm the setting. You will now be able to encrypt any file or folder on your computer which is stored on a hard drive. The same option is available for network drives as well so you can encrypt all the files and folders on a shared drive or on a drive that is attached to a network server.
Encryption protects all your data, whether it is stored on an internal drive or an external drive connected to your PC via a USB port or via a network. It also protects data during file transfers, when you are sharing folders with other devices and even when you are opening files on a different computer. All of this makes encryption a data security must for everyone, especially users of Windows. It is already built into the operating system so there is no additional setup required to get started using it.
Use Different File Types With Encryption
While encryption is great at protecting your personal data and keeping it safe, it is not meant to be a data-wasting feature. For instance, when you are encrypting a spreadsheet with sensitive information in it, you do not want that information to be made up of 0s and 1s as that would take up a lot of space. This is why you should always use different file types when working with sensitive information. For example, encrypting a Microsoft Word document will make it much bigger than usual, but you will still be able to work with it without worrying about anyone else reading it.
Use A Password-Protected Private Key
If you have a password-protected private key then you can use it to encrypt files and folders on your computer. This will make the process of encrypting them much simpler and will prevent anyone with access to your PC from being able to access your data, including files that are stored on a flash drive or on a network drive. A private key can only be used to access the data that it was created for and cannot be shared with anyone else. This is why it is important to keep them in a safe place (e.g. a password-protected file on your computer) and to use them only when needed.
Use An Application To Manage Your Keys
If you are using a desktop computer then you can use a dedicated application to manage your private keys. For example, when using the Microsoft Office suite on a PC then you can use the Data Protection Manager – usually found under the Accessibility menu – to generate a random key and then use that key to encrypt any new documents that you create. After a while, you will grow tired of constantly entering a long password every time you create a new document so you can encrypt it and you can consider this feature a life saver. Using a dedicated application to manage your keys means that you do not have to worry about remembering a long password, which is likely to be easier for you to forget.
Encrypting Files And Folders On A Partition Or Hard Drive Is The Easy Way
If you are using a single hard drive for your computer and you want to encrypt a specific part of it then the simplest thing to do is to follow the steps below:
- Navigate to this part of the drive using the File Explorer
- Right-click and select New | Volumes | Blank partition
- Enter a name for the volume (e.g. “Secret Drive”)
- Select the encryption option
- Click on the Create button
Once you have created the partition then you can easily access it using the File Explorer. Simply go to the Start menu and select Computer. Then, under the System heading, you will see a series of drives, each one representing a different drive attached to your computer. The entry for the Blank partition will be indicated by a small triangle next to it. Right-click on the partition and select Properties to bring up the disk partition properties page as shown in the image below.
Here, you have the option to change the permissions for the partition so that it is only accessible by you or specific users that you choose. You should also enable the Encrypted File System option, which will make your files and folders more secure when accessing them. To finish, click on the Apply button to finalize the settings.
The same steps described above can be used to encrypt a folder on a network drive, as shown in the image below. Once the folder is encrypted then you can access it using the File Explorer on any device that is connected to the network.
Use BitLocker To Create A Trusted Computing Platform
If you are interested in creating a trusted computing platform then BitLocker is the app for you. BitLocker is a data security suite which was originally designed for use on locked down, corporate computers but it can also be used to create a private, encrypted network between two or more devices. This is why it is often referred to as a private sector encryption tool. To use BitLocker, simply download it from the Windows Store and run it. Once it is installed then you can create a BitLocker Drive, which is a hybrid drive that contains both the conventional partitions for storing data and the hidden partition containing the encryption key, as shown in the image below.
Creating a BitLocker Drive allows you to store all the data on the conventional partitions – usually C: and D: – without any fear of that data being accessed by anyone else. This makes BitLocker a perfect tool for storing important documents or for backing up files that you do not want to keep on your PC or mobile devices. Once you have stored your data on the BitLocker Drive then you can use the recovery key, which is stored on the same drive, to decrypt any of your data if needed. When you use BitLocker then all the data that is stored on your device will be encrypted and, as a result, much harder to access by unauthorized individuals or groups. This is why BitLocker is often considered one of the safest – and most convenient – ways of securely storing data.
Enable The Windows Defender Firewall On Your PC
Windows Defender Firewall is built into each and every copy of Windows 10 and enables users to set up their own personal perimeter defense and content filtering rules. A firewall is an important security tool which protects your computer from malicious attacks such as malware, viruses, phishing attempts and any other type of interference. The Windows Defender Firewall can be configured to protect your device automatically whenever you turn it on or when you log in. For more information on the Windows Defender Firewall, consult the documentation that came with your device or visit the Microsoft website.
Use A VPN To Keep Your Traffic Private
A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts all the data that you send over it, so it is much harder for anyone to intercept and view your traffic. You should use a VPN to keep your personal data and web traffic secure while you are on public Wi-Fi or when you are using other people’s services, such as 4G or 3G. To ensure that your VPN is always available when you need it then you can set it up to connect automatically whenever your device (e.g. a laptop) is connected to the Internet. You can also set a VPN to disconnect automatically whenever your device is disconnected from the Internet. This will ensure that your personal data is always secure even when you are not using a VPN.